The World Championships are upon us! I’m not sure if I should be sad that the season is almost over (we do have the World Team Trophy afterwards, after all) or if I should be happy that we’ve wrapped up a post-Olympic season and that we can look forward to more polished competitors in the fall. Either way, it’s time to make some predictions!
The men’s competition will likely be unpredictable and strange with so many unknowns coming into play as we go into Worlds. A few competitors to keep an eye out for are:
Yuzuru Hanyu – The Olympic Champion has had a season of up and downs with injuries and illness. Without knowing where he is in terms of health and training, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how I think he’ll do. I have been informed of rumours that he has been training in Japan instead of Toronto with Brian Orser but I have yet to verify the veracity of these statements. All in all, if Yuzuru skates well enough, he can probably defend his World title. If not, then his Olympic status/reputation may be enough to give him a medal for a less than stellar performance.
Denis Ten – Ten is one of those competitors that confuse me. He has great potential but you never know how he will skate. So far, it seems as if Ten has been having a half decent season and he will either use the momentum from his victory at Four Continents to boost his confidence and give a great performance at Worlds or he will crumble. I do enjoy watching Denis skate and I hope for the former – his programs this year are quite nice.
Javier Fernandez – The person most likely to pick up a medal once Yuzuru crumbles is Javier Fernandez. Fernandez had a bit of a rough start to his season but he tends to improve as the season wears on. Personally, I’ve always found Javier to peak around the European Championships but his performances there were lackluster, despite his victory. Maybe he’ll channel all of that energy he was lacking back then into his Worlds skates.
A few people that I must grudgingly admit that they have a chance at the podium are Sergei Voronov and Maxim Kovtun. For the long time readers of my blog, you would know that I find their skating to be tolerable at best but windmill-like and uncontrolled for the most part. Unfortunately, they did have success this season so they are contenders for the podium. My predictions, however, will be more hopeful and optimistic at the results. Nonetheless, I expect to be very, very wrong.
Gold: Javier Fernandez
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu
Bronze: Denis Ten
The ladies competition this season has been the story of a rivalry between two Russian ladies – one up and coming skater exploding with Star Quality and a more seasoned skater who has star quality and regained her stride after a few difficult seasons. From the European Championships, I think that Elizaveta Tuktamysheva has demonstrated that she’s a more mature and polished skater with better overall skating skills than her younger teammate. If she falters, however, I expect Elena Radionova to be a tough competitor and swoop down to grab the gold away. Either way, I still think that despite Elena’s success this season, she will need to go back to the drawing board during the off season to work on her speed, power and skating basics if she wants to remain a serious competitor. I can see that she will not be able to rely on her jumps alone as the field improves and her body undergoes the dreaded growth of puberty.
As for the bronze medal, I’m hoping that Satoko Miyahara will pull through to round off the podium but I would not be surprised if Gracie Gold makes a comeback or if Polina Edmunds uses her victory from 4CC to propel her to a medal here. Anna Pogorilaya may also make a bid for bronze though I’m not sure if the judges would be comfortable with a Russian sweep. I’m also up in the air as to who to pick for my bronze prediction so I’ll likely just make a random guess.
Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
Silver: Elena Radionova
Bronze: Anna Pogorilaya
Ok, first off, I was shocked to discover that Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov were not on the competitor’s list on the ISU webpage. After some Twitter searches (btw, follow me @RinksideCafe), it seems as if they’ve decided to skip the competition to prepare for the new season. I guess these two are in it to win it and after their defeat at Euros and the idea that they’re not likely to beat Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, they’ve decided to go back to the drawing board. Interesting choice, though I’m not sure if I agree.
As for the podium, I expect Duhamel & Radford to outstrip their competitors through sheer TES and win the entire competition. I still don’t like their style or programs but their technical ability will make for an interesting 2015/16 season as other teams work to be competitive against them. In that sense, I’m looking forward to that.
As for the teams rounding off the podium, I am praying that Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov pull off the performance of their lives when they skate to their Manfred Symphony LP because that program is my life this season. If they manage to pull off two cleans skates, they may be the only team at the moment who have any chance of seizing gold should Duhamel & Radford falter.
However, Kavaguti & Smirnov are themselves very inconsistent and we have a slew of interesting Chinese teams to fill the void for the rest of the podium. Four Continents gave us an interesting look as to how the teams were doing in their competitive capacity. Despite the results, the difference between the scores of all the Chinese teams were 1 or 2 points of each other. A more naive version of me would say that it could go either way but part of me thinks that veterans Qing Pang & Jian Tong will come out at the top of the Chinese contingent. Still, I would love to see the younger teams step up to try to challenge this as I’m really enjoying the skating from the Chinese pairs teams at the moment.
Gold: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
Silver: Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov
Bronze: Qing Pang & Jian Tong
I think that I have been very harsh on the ice dance competition this season, mostly as I’m still recovering from the loss of Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Meryl Davis & Charlie White. I think these two teams have that rare talent that you see once every decade or so and this season has been so rough that the difference in skill has been heartbreaking for me.
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje are the team to beat at Worlds, being undefeated all season. Going forward to the next season, I think that Kaitlyn & Andrew need to stay in mindset they have been in the last Olympic cycle – in other words, in chase mode. Despite their position in ice dance at the moment, I think they need to be in that frame of mind when they were still chasing after Tessa & Scott, mostly because I think they should continue to create innovative programs and also because they’re still not at a technical level I’d expect from a top team. This is less their fault but rather the result of a much weaker ice dance field in general. I like Weaver & Poje and I’d like to see them succeed but I think the journey has just begun. The gold is not guaranteed and they will need to put out two solid performances to win.
For silver, I think Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron‘s meteoric rise is a good sign of how they will do at Worlds. As the top European team, I think these two have the momentum to make a splash at their second senior World Championships. They will face tough competition from Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who are technically proficient and will be a contender for the podium as well, but I think that Papadakis & Cizeron have the right reputation (and way nicer programs) to beat the Americans.
Of course, if any of these teams make a mistake, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte will take advantage of the situation to get on the podium but I’m not sure if this team has really found its groove this season.
Gold: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Silver: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron
Bronze: Madison Chock & Evan Bates
What are your predictions for Worlds this year? Let me know what you think! I always love hearing about your predictions!
~The Rinkside Cafe